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Affirmative action has been legally upheld since 2003 to provide colleges and universities with a more diverse cohort of students. Now, it’s in danger of being struck down.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal in which the plaintiffs want affirmative action removed from the list of factors included in college and university admission decision-making.
Two colleges, the University of North Carolina and Harvard, are involved in the case. The Supreme Court will hear it during their next legislative session. The plaintiffs are supported by Edward Blum. He’s a longtime opponent of affirmative action. Meanwhile, the Plaintiffs include a group of students who claim their skin color is a disadvantage.
According to Mr. Blum, “Harvard and the University of North Carolina have racially gerrymandered their freshman classes in order to achieve prescribed racial quotas.” Mr. Blum is known for supporting previous efforts at overturning affirmative action as a college admissions practice, all of which have failed.
Lawsuit claims affirmative action discriminates against Asian-American students
This suit alleges that affirmative action practices at Harvard discriminate against Asian-American students, and that the admissions process at the University of North Carolina, which also includes affirmative action, discriminates against both Asian-American students and white students.
While the Supreme Court has previously maintained affirmative action as a legal practice, two of SCOTUS’ most reliably liberal judges are no longer on the bench. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy were replaced by nominees from twice-impeached former president Trump, who installed conservative judges.
Meanwhile, the schools have vowed to fight to keep affirmative action. According to Harvard’s lawyers, “Mandating race-blind admissions programs would undermine those universities’ ability to engage in the kind of individualized review that yields a class that is both diverse and excellent.”
AA addresses systemic racism
One federal district judge has already sided with Harvard, noting that losing affirmative action, “would cause a sharp decline in the percentage of African American and Hispanic students.”
The plaintiffs for both cases stem from the group Students for Fair Admissions, who requested that SCOTUS hear their appeal from previous cases which they lost. In their brief they note, “If a university wants to admit students with certain experiences (say, overcoming discrimination), then it can evaluate whether individual applicants have that experience. It cannot simply use race as a proxy for certain experiences or views.”
Meanwhile, according to civil-rights lawyer Damon Hewitt, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, affirmative action is paramount to addressing systemic racism across the United States. “Students of color… have over time been excluded for access to elite institutions and are historically marginalized. Race-conscious admissions policies are a critical tool that ensures students of color are not overlooked in a process that does not typically value their determination, accomplishments and immense talents.”